Antela Lika
A screenshot of Top Channel reporter Antela Lika, calling the police after her crew was threatened by three men allegedly involved in an illegal mining operation near the town of Fushe Kruje in central Albania on February 8, 2023. (Screenshot: YouTube/Top Channel)

Albanian TV crew threatened at gunpoint, camera operator assaulted

Berlin, February 16, 2023 — Albanian authorities should swiftly and thoroughly investigate the recent attack on a TV crew for the privately owned broadcaster Top Channel, hold the perpetrators to account, and ensure that reporters covering illegal mining and other environmental issues can work freely, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Thursday.

On February 8, three men threatened and attacked a three-person crew for Top Channel‘s investigative TV show Fiks Fare, consisting of reporter Antela Lika, camera operator Daniel Shkulaku, and driver Mark Arra, according to reports by the broadcaster and SafeJournalists, a regional website tracking violence against journalists, as well as Denisa Haxhiaj, the show’s deputy director, who communicated with CPJ via email.

“Albanian authorities must conduct a swift and thorough investigation into the recent attack on Top Channel reporter Antela Lika and her crew, find the perpetrators, and hold them to account,” said CPJ Europe Representative Attila Mong. “Journalists covering environmental issues are acting on behalf of the public; attacking or intimidating them is totally unacceptable and just shows that the attackers have something to hide.”

The team was using a drone to film an alleged illegal mining operation near the town of Fushe Kruje in central Albania when a man shot at the drone, forcing the crew to land it, according to those sources and video published by Top Channel.

Three armed men, one of them wearing a mask, then approached the crew, pointed guns at them, and demanded they leave the area and delete their footage. When they refused, one of the men grabbed the camera out of Shkulaku’s hand, hit him, and threw the camera to the ground, breaking it, according to those reports and Haxhiaj.

The crew escaped after about 30 minutes and then met with police, according to those reports. The Albanian national police are investigating the incident and have identified two of the attackers but no arrests have been made as of Thursday, according to SafeJournalists and Haxhiaj.

Haxhiaj said Shkulaku suffered minor bruises, but was doing well.

During a joint press freedom mission to Albania in November 2022, CPJ and other press freedom organizations found that the safety of journalists continues to be an issue in the country.

“While serious physical assaults remain rare, recent cases of violence against journalists underscore the threats media professionals face due to their work. Delays in efforts to bring those responsible for attacks to justice results in impunity,” the joint statement said.

CPJ emailed the Albanian national police for comment, but did not receive any reply.